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A Pregnant Unmarried Policewoman Will Be Sacked’, Court Insists, Dismisses NBA’s Suit

A Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed the Nigerian Bar Association NBA’s seeking to void some provisions in the Nigeria Police Regulations NPR, insisting that unmarried female Police officers who get pregnant will be discharged from service.

A pregnant policewoman, Cpl Omolola Olajide was dismissed from the Nigeria Police Force in Ekiti on January 26, 2021, on the grounds that she is unmarried contrary to Regulation 127 of the Police Act. Her dismissal saw groups suing the Federal Government and the Police force.

Filing a suit against such situations, the NBA argued that the Regulations 126 and 127 of the NPR conflict with sections 37 and 42 of the nation’s Constitution. Regulation 126 of the Police Act provides that a married woman police officer, who is pregnant, may be granted maternal leave in accordance with the provisions of the general orders, while Regulation 127 provides that an unmarried woman police officer, who becomes pregnant, shall be discharged from the Force and shall not be re-enlisted except with the approval of the Inspector General of Police.

Both provisions, the NBA added, discriminate against unmarried female police officers, as against Section 37 of the Nigerian Constitution which guarantees every Nigerian the right to private and family life and Section 42 which provides for the rights to freedom from discrimination. The NBA further cited Omolola Olajide’s case, debating that both provisions of the Act have also rendered many childless for fear of being sacked.

In a judgment today, however, Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja, held that there was nothing discriminatory or unlawful about the provisions in Regulations 126 and 127 of the NPR. Justice Ekwo held that it will be wrong for an unmarried female police officer to flout the regulations having willingly enlisted into the police and being aware of the regulations.

“I find that the regulation in issue in this case is about conduct and nothing more. I find no compelling reason for this court to disrupt the discipline of the force or interfere in the regulation of conduct of officers of the Nigeria Police Force whether male or female. Any person, who joins the force must abide by the regulation of the force or not join the force, as there is no compulsion about its membership.”

“In my opinion, the essence of this suit is to use the provision of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to lower the moral and professional standard of the NPF and this court will not give its imprimatur to such venture. It is my opinion that Regulation 127 of the NPFR is to be seen as a code of conduct for an unmarried woman police officer and to forewarn such officer on the consequence of becoming pregnant while being unmarried in the force.”

“However, the regulation provides for a remedy after such officer has been discharged from the force by stating that such officer can be re-listed with the approval of the Inspector General of Police. The argument that the provision is discriminatory because it does not apply to male officers, in my opinion, goes beyond the bounds of reasonableness and tilts seriously towards the absurd. The provision is aimed at the person who is capable of becoming pregnant while unmarried and not otherwise.”

“Where a law or regulation of an establishment identifies gender attributes or faults and seeks to regulate the vulnerabilities capable of negatively affecting the progress of such gender, such law or regulation is a warning aforehand and cannot be said to be discriminatory. It is my finding that, in all that the plaintiff has posited, it has not pointed to any aspect of the regulations complained of which violates the interest of public order or public morality which will make it reasonably justifiable to invalidate Regulation 127 of the NPFR and I so hold.”

“I find that there was no basis for this action in the first place. An unmarried woman who intends to get pregnant is not compelled to join the police. Where such a woman becomes a police officer, she is bound by the regulation on pregnancy while being unmarried.I am unable to see any of the fundamental human rights provided in Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) expressly or latently meant to shield an unmarried woman police officer who becomes pregnant from being discharged from the force”, the judge said.

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